When a Pennsylvania doctor diagnoses a person with a terminal illness, it affects not only that person, but his or her family as well. If you are the spouse or adult child of someone who is suffering from an incurable disease, you may spend a lot of time wondering what you can do (or what you shouldn't do) to help him or her live as high quality a life as possible in the time he or she has left.
If you're one of many caretakers whose loved one's illness is related to asbestos exposure, you likely have other issues on your mind as well, such as what type of recourse your family member has to seek compensation for damages if employer or manufacturer negligence was a causal factor in the events that resulted in his or her illness. As for what you might do to assist your loved one, others who have taken care of terminally ill patients say there are several ideas to consider.
Be willing to listen
You'll likely notice your loved one going through numerous phases as he or she nears the end of life. Some days, you may find that your spouse or parent or whomever it is that is ill is silent or sleeping most of the day. Other times, he or she may be quite animated, seeming to have many thoughts that he or she wishes to share. You can provide encouragement and support by simply sitting nearby and lending an ear.
You can be an advocate
If your loved one is in pain or has a medical request, you can act on his or her behalf to speak to a doctor or nurse. For instance, if your loved one is in the hospital and pressed the call button, but no one came, you can go to the nursing station and request that someone stop by your family member's room to address his or her needs.
Help to alleviate fears
Many people are afraid to die. You can't predict what your loved one's last days or moments will be like, but you can assure him or her that you and other care providers will try to keep him or her pain free and as comfortable as possible in as peaceful and serene an atmosphere as possible, too. You can even promise to hold your loved one's hand if that makes him or her feel better.
When there are still months or years to live
If your loved one was only recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or some other asbestos-related terminal illness, he or she may still have a lot of living left to do. As you do your best to help with transitions that will ultimately arise, you can also assist in obtaining legal support if your family member wishes to pursue litigation regarding his or her illness.